The Nineteenth Talk
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
Tawakkul requires that people should understand that on everything is Allah (S.w.T.)’s suzerainty and all things big and small are His. All that happens is with His wish and command. As it is said in the Sura an-Najm giving examples of certain things it is said:
وَأَنَّهُ هُوَ أَضْحَكَ وَأَبْكَى
This means that it is Allah (S.w.T.) who controls the causes for men becoming happy and sad. He provides wealth and riches to people and makes them prosperous. The land on which we walk also belongs to Allah (S.w.T.). The dwellings in which we live in, and all the paraphernalia therein belong to Him only. We should have absolute Faith in His Sovereignty over everything.
As long as one doesn’t have faith in the facts mentioned, it is not possible to understand the reality of La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah. Man has to understand that the authority of anyone, other than Allah (S.w.T.), on anything is totally negated. The word “La” asserts that there is no power in the hands of anyone other than Allah (S.w.T.). He alone is the reservoir and fountainhead of power and is the Creator and the Possessor.
There is no permanent class or status for the creatures. The ability of man to use the tongue and modulate words is because of the Will of Allah (S.w.T.).
Sometime ago, a woman was brought to a hospital. Her lower jaw was hanging downward. They said that she opened her mouth wide to yawn. Ever since then she was unable to close her mouth.
It is true that making both the jaws meet is in His Power! The summary of this discussion is that in matters man doesn’t have total control and in everything the wish of Allah (S.w.T.) is Supreme. The matters that are unseen will become visible only with Allah (S.w.T.)’s Wish. To understand this phenomenon, it will need deep thinking and wisdom.
About a third of the contents of the Holy Qur’an is about Tawhid or the Unity of Allah (S.w.T.). This highlights the importance of the verse of Tawhid that is specifically pertaining to the fact of the Unity of Allah (S.w.T.). According to some authentic traditions, the felicity of reciting this Sura is equal to reciting a third of the Qur’an.
Who deserves this felicity? The person deserving this reward is one who practices Taqwa or absolute piety. He can recite this verse thrice and get felicity equal to the recitation of the complete Book.
As we have said earlier, saying la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah is like having the key to the Heaven in one’s hands. But this privilege too is only for those who are practitioners of true Taqwa and have a complete understanding of and absolute faith on Tawhid. How could an ignorant person with aimless recitation of La hawla deserve to get the key to the Heaven?
The first stage of Tawakkul is that people should not think of Allah (S.w.T.) like a worldly attorney to whom they trust their matters with full confidence. The second stage is that the person trusts on Allah (S.w.T.) at least as much as a child puts his trust on the mother. The third stage concerns the privileged persons whose wealth and possession is only on the Will of Allah (S.w.T.). They do only that which has the express approval of Allah (S.w.T.)!
Hadrat Ibrahim Khaleelullah (a.s.) had achieved the highest degree of Tawakkul. When the men of Nimrod wanted to consign him to the fire, Hadrat Jibril came and asked him, “If you have any requirement, please tell me!” Hadrat Ibrahim said, “I do have a requirement, but I will not ask it of you!” Jibril asked, “From whom, then?” Hadrat Ibrahim (a.s.) replied, “He is aware of all my needs! I need not ask him. He is all-wise and He sees everything! Whatever He wishes for me, I too wish for the same!”
We must be uttering a thousand times the word Hasbunallah wa n’im al-Wakil (Allah suffices for us and He is best attorney!). But in reality have we ever trusted to Him, wholly or partially, our worldly matters or affairs of the Hereafter?
Have we ever acted upon the injunction of the Holy Qur’an -Fattakhi dhuhu wakila – (then take Him (Allah) as an attorney)? If the reply to this question is in the negative, then what is the need of complaining and living in doubts and fears? Believe me! There is only one reason for all the trouble. That is, paucity of faith and belief.
If someone acquires Tawakkul in day-to-day life, then he will be free of greed and avarice in his needs and wants.
During Hijjat al-Wida, The Last Hajj, the Prophet (S) held the threshold of Ka’aba and turning towards his companions said, “Ruh al-Amin, Jibril, has revealed to my heart that no person will die till the sustenance earmarked for him in this world is not exhausted. This means that the person will not die before consuming the last morsel of food meant for him. Therefore, fear Allah (S.w.T.) and avoid greed and avarice, lest you involve yourselves in illegitimate (Haram). The one who reclines on the worldly matters, he will never be sated with however much he gets!”
This doesn’t mean that one should not strive for search of livelihood. Do strive, but always with Tawakkul in mind.
Consider this example with care and attention. Suppose you are involved in some legal problem. Dealing with this problem personally is beyond you. We suggested to you to look for a wise and competent lawyer and act on his advice. Then this act of yours will not be contrary to the requirements of Tawakkul but also the attorney’s advice will be binding on you because he wants things that way and your action also in accord, because he wishes to set your matters right.
This example proves that following the attorney’s advice implicitly is in accordance with the requirement of Tawakkul. Similarly Allah (S.w.T.) reforms the affairs of people through the circumstances (asbaab) created by Him.
Cure from ailments is at Allah (S.w.T.)’s Wish, but He also wants people to go to a physician and get medicines prescribed. He has exhorted people not to neglect this important matter in their lives. Similarly about the affairs of the Hereafter Allah (S.w.T.) says that for qualifying for the Heaven, a person’s own actions will be the yardstick for judgment.
وَأَن لَّيْسَ لِلْإِنسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَى
You should not depend only on your prayers for deliverance, but also on His Munificence and Kindness. Don’t brood too much on your good deeds that it gives rise to the instinct of pride that might go against you. The best course for you is to implicitly follow the Commands of Allah (S.w.T.).
This is the reason that when the toilers stir out of their homes in search of work, they say, “O Sustainer! We strive for earning the day’s square meals. You must give abundance!” These words reflect the spirit of Tawhid.
It is said that in Medina a person came to Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and complained of penury. The Imam said that when he reached home in Kufa, he should take a shop on rent and sit there. The man said, “I have no money to invest on goods!” The Imam replied, “Do whatever you are asked to do!” The man complied, rented a shop and started sitting there every day. After a few days a person came to him with some goods and asked him to sell them on the basis of a pre determined commission. The owner of the goods said that he was leaving the goods in the shop on consignment basis of sell-and-pay!
Another person came with some more goods and there was a flow of suppliers of goods to the shop. Buyers too started flocking the shop. The affairs of the person took a turn towards prosperity!
There are some people who, on hearing that one must put Trust on Allah (S.w.T.), wrongly think that they need not make any efforts because Allah (S.w.T.) will provide their sustenance. They are absolutely wrong. They must work in obedience to Allah (S.w.T.)’s injunction for earning a fair living and not only in obedience to the instructions given at the place of work.
Whatever work a true Muslim does is only in Obedience to Allah (S.w.T.). He knows the Prophet (S.)’s exhortation, “An idle youth is Allah (S.w.T.)’s enemy” Therefore he goes out in search of his livelihood.
Someone might raise an objection that why the people of learning don’t stir out in search of livelihood? The truth is that the nature of work of a seeker of knowledge (Talib e Ilm) is different from that of other people. It may not be possible that a person wants to train himself in jurisprudence and does other trades for a livelihood. He has to spend all his time in seeking knowledge on the matters of the Faith. Allah (S.w.T.) arranges their sustenance from - min haythu la yahtasib - a place he never imagined! Therefore, it has been narrated that excepting the seeker of knowledge, Allah (S.w.T.) has provided livelihood for all the creatures from the material resources of the world.
One very important sign of Tawakkul is not the presence of any element of avarice in the person. The second sign is that when he meets different people, there is no change in his attitude. In certain cases persons think that they are men of Tawakkul, and imagine that they are totally dedicated to Allah (S.w.T.), but when they meets with failure in certain worldly affairs, they get dejected. This is a sign that they were depending more on worldly concerns than on Allah (S.w.T.). If there is total dependence on Allah (S.w.T.), then one would know that whatever happened to them is with His express Wish and thank Allah (S.w.T.) under all circumstances!
Blaming or praising the circumstances is both the signs of lack of Tawakkul in a person and a proof of the weakness of his Faith, because, if the Faith on Unity of Allah (S.w.T.) (Tawhid) is firm, then Tawakkul will definitely be there. Tawakkul is always reflected in the words and deeds, likes and dislikes, of a person.
If someone enjoys a gain for some reason and, instead of being grateful to Allah (S.w.T.) for His Blessing, is only thankful to the favorable circumstances for his success, then he is a Mushrik or polytheist. Also, because of the circumstances, if he fails in his efforts, and blames the circumstances for his misfortune, then he considers only the circumstances as his Mushkil Kusha or his trouble-shooter and not the Will of Allah (S.w.T.). This is a general failing of the human beings.
But one who puts his total trust on Allah (S.w.T.), he doesn’t depend on the circumstances for the success of his tasks. If he fails in his efforts after due trials, he resigns himself to the fact that Allah (S.w.T.) willed it that way. Although the unfavorable circumstances might have been the cause of his failure, he thanks Allah (S.w.T.) that he believes the circumstances to be under the Power of the Almighty.
Tawakkul is mandatory on the Muslims. Neglecting it will be tantamount to not abiding by the mandatory action. As implicit faith on Tawhid is compulsory, Tawakkul too is necessary for a Muslim. It is a fact that when a person is firm in his belief of the Unity of Allah (S.w.T.), he instinctly becomes a practitioner of Tawakkul. Such a person is endowed with all the requirements of Faith. Iman bil Tawhid means that he trusts all his affairs to the Wish of Allah (S.w.T.). He expects help only from Allah (S.w.T.), fears Him and puts total Trust in Him.
The researcher Ardabili says in “Zibdat al-Bayan” that the Command of Allah (S.w.T.) about Tawakkul is not specifically for the Prophet (S.) but it is in general for all human beings. The Holy Verse “Fattakhi dhuhu wakila” is for everyone and the witness for this is borne by the other verses of the Holy Qur’an wherein the populace is addressed in this manner:
وَعَلَى اللّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُواْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
Therefore this is a general injunction for all Muslims.
Here it is possible that one might say that such injunctions in the Qur’an are just a part of the code of moral values. Then the injunction of believing in La ilaaha illallah might face the same doubt. The meaning of La ilaaha illallah is that Rabb (Lord), Ma’bud (Creator), Mudabbir (Wise), Worthy of Worship and All Pervading is only Allah (S.w.T.) and none else. This is the Practical Tawhid (Tawhid al-Af’aali). Is it possible that even those who do not have faith in this might not be questioned for their lack of faith! No! In all circumstances firm faith on Tawhid is compulsory.
The researcher Ardabili says that in terms of the Holy Verse “Fatawakkal ‘ala Allah” (therefore place your trust on Allah) it is still binding on every believer (mu’min) to take advice from others in all matters. But he should also not think that the best solution for his problems is only in the advice he has obtained from others. In fact, he should depend on Allah (S.w.T.) that He puts the right advice on the tongues of the advisers.
If because of good advice you succeed in your task, then don’t say that the desirable result is only because of the advice. You should think that Allah (S.w.T.) had guided your advisers aright! If you are unsuccessful in your efforts, despite all the good advice, think that it was Allah (S.w.T.)’s Wish.
Therefore, whether you acted on your own intuition or the advice of others, hope for Allah (S.w.T.)’s Help in your matters. Always ask your advisers to give their right suggestions mindful of Allah (S.w.T.)’s Wish in the matter.
Ardabili says that one who has not acquired Tawakkul has deprived himself of Faith. Because Allah (S.w.T.) says:
وَعَلَى اللّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُواْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
This proves that if there is no Tawakkul there is no Iman or Faith. This proves that the crux of the faith is to believe that Allah (S.w.T.) is the Causer of the Causes (Musabbib al-asbaab) and the basic requirement of the Faith is to Trust on Allah (S.w.T.). If you rate your own view or the advice of others more than the Will of Allah (S.w.T.) then you have distanced yourself from Him. In these circumstances you have ceased to be a believer, then what is the question of your practicing Tawakkul?
A person, sixty years of age, had claims of being an adept at everything, was particularly proud of his knowledge of medicine. He claimed that he was the Aristotle of the time. He proudly said that he maintained his body according to the rigid norms of medicine and that he would certainly live with good health for the next forty years.
One day the man made a meal of yogurt and cucumber around the time of Dhuhr. He was devoid of teeth that he had already lost. He developed a heart- ache after his meal. He thought that the pain was due to the cold. He made a self-diagnosis that he was chronic sufferer of biliousness, and the yogurt he had eaten was not sufficient to curb the bile. He therefore drank some lime- juice. He thought that this treatment would give him comfort. But by Asr he was really put to rest! He had expired!
One who depends only on his intuition, he thinks that there is no power over him that has Wisdom of all the matters. Such a person suffers from lack of Faith.
You must ensure that whenever you decide to do anything, depend on your own wisdom, advice of friends and trust the matter to Allah (S.w.T.). Don’t ever think that the reason for doing any task is permanent. We never know what is the Wish of Allah (S.w.T.).
Briefly, if there is no Tawakkul, there isn’t Faith. The meaning of Tawakkul is depending on other. If a person is the practitioner of Tawakkul, he trusts his matters to Allah (S.w.T.). If he doesn’t Trust Allah (S.w.T.) then he depends on others for the solution to his problems.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
In the last talk we have discussed the observation of the Researcher Ardabili on the subject of Tawakkul. The 158th Verse of Sura Aal Imran says:
وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللّهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
…so when you have decided, then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust (Him). (Sura Aal Imran, 3:158)
Consult with others about your work, when you make up your mind after that, then trust on Allah (S.w.T.) and go ahead with your task. About this Researcher Ardabili has said that whether the basis of the decision to go ahead with the task is of your thinking or the advice of others, Tawakkul on Allah (S.w.T.) is very important. Whatever the result, success or failure, don’t think that it was because of the good or bad advice you followed, but try to resign to the will of Allah (S.w.T.).
Whatever task you want to accomplish, whether for seeking some benefit or for warding away some trouble, have Tawakkul on Allah (S.w.T.) for that matter and don’t depend only on your own decision and the advice of friends. Remember your friends too, like you, are fallible beings. “Whomsoever you call for help, besides Allah (S.w.T.), is a creature of Allah (S.w.T.) like you.” Therefore it is necessary that the fountainhead of the strength of your heart should be none other than Allah (S.w.T.). It must be remembered the wisdom and vision of men is limited and may not have the comprehension of all the connected facts.
We don’t suggest that you should not consult nor do we ask you to refrain from acting on the advice of your well-wishers. But you must keep all your hopes only on Allah (S.w.T.) and pray to Him that He puts the best alternative for your welfare on the lips of your advisers. Allah (S.w.T.) says, “One who does Istikhara (seeks good from Allah (S.w.T.)) will never be in trouble.” The reason for this is that one will not be aware of what is in store for him. He seeks Allah (S.w.T.)’s guidance because He knows everything about all the matters.
It has come in the narrations about Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (a.s.) that whenever he had any important task to perform, like buying a house, marriage or need for traveling, we would repeat the following words 200 times: asta-khirullahi birahmatihi fi ‘aafiya.
And, then, according to his own thinking he would act.
The Researcher Ardabili says that because of Tawakkul, it is mandatory on Muslims that they leave all their affairs in the trust of Allah (S.w.T.) and resign themselves to His wish. For example, a farmer sows seeds in his fields trusting in Allah (S.w.T.) that he gets a good crop and returns for his hard toil. When you succeed in any task, count it as Allah (S.w.T.)’s wish and not only the result of your own efforts. If you get the feeling of pride for you success, it might be tantamount to be termed practitioner of polytheism (shirk).
It should be your faith that you are only an instrument to do the task, but its results are not in your hands. Your duty is to knock at the door of Allah (S.w.T.) and make efforts to create circumstances for the fulfillment of the task.
Whatever work a man does, his faith should be that fulfillment and accomplishment of the job is at the discretion of Allah (S.w.T.). The erudite scholars of Islam have said and, Tabari too says in his commentary, Majma al-Bayan that one should submit to Allah (S.w.T.) his affairs in such a manner that the thought of his person gets obliterated in the process. Ija’al an-nafs kal maadoom - think of the self as being absent.
A farmer, after sowing the seeds of oats in his fields, keeps all his hopes for a good crop on Allah (S.w.T.) and awaits His Wish. Innallaha huwar-Razzaq - the true Sustainer is Allah.
All men, in their affairs, must have such faith in Allah (S.w.T.).
As a farmer is aware that his crop is not only the result of his personal endeavors because lots of crops fail because of several reasons and also are destroyed by natural calamities as well. Similarly a trader should know that the profit in his business is not only because of his skills in the trade. As a matter of fact the labor of the farmer and the skillful investment of the trader are because of Allah (S.w.T.)’s Support and Wish. Allah (S.w.T.) is, no doubt, the creator and the Master of everything in the Universe. If His Wish was not favorable to them, all the efforts of the farmer and the trader could have gone to waste. Therefore, man should put his implicit Trust in Allah (S.w.T.), otherwise he will not get anything other than failure and disappointment.
It is He who gives relief from harm and danger. To face the enemy it is necessary to manufacture arms and strengthen oneself. But success in defense too is only at His pleasure. Therefore, to protect one’s life, property, honor and specially the Faith, your total dependence must be on Allah (S.w.T.).
Tawakkul doesn’t mean that one need not make efforts to strife for material benefits, or to strive to ward off dangers and leave everything to the care of Allah (S.w.T.). We have reiterated on the matter several times that when the attorney tells his client to gather all the relevant documentation and evidence himself, he has to do it. When the attorney has all the data on the causes of the litigation, he can successfully handle the case. The client cannot sleep away. He has to follow up the proceedings of the case. Similarly for defense against an enemy, one has to acquire and procure the necessary arms. Don’t also think that making available the arms relieves you of action. Defense has to be done by you yourself. But the reservoir and the fountainhead of the strength of your heart is the support of Allah (S.w.T.) whose pleasure is essential for victory and success.
Many years ago in Samara there was literally an invasion by hordes of scorpions. They started emerging from every hole and crevice, every door and window. All the students fled from the schools. One student did an Istikhara whether he could stay put in the school. Somehow, the Istikhara came out favorable for staying. Therefore the student stayed on at the Madrasah. He slept there in the night. In the morning his cortege had be taken out from the premises.
This is an ignorant act that in the name of Tawakkul, expose oneself to danger. The right thing would have been to flee from the place of danger in Tawakkul of Allah (S.w.T.).
As Tawakkul is necessary, so is the effort to earn a livelihood is necessary. Similarly putting ones conscience in danger too is Haram. Allah (S.w.T.) issues His Orders through the circumstances. Sometimes He does it without any recourse to circumstances to prove His Omnipotence!
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was proceeding with a group from Kufa for performing the Hajj. On the way a tiger confronted them. The people in the group didn’t have the courage to face it. The Imam (a.s.) himself went forward and waved to the tiger to go away. It turned and went away. Then the Imam (a.s.) addressed the surprised group: “If you too were free of sins, you could have done what I was able to do! Even the wild animal would have obeyed you.”
The researcher Ardabili says that at such times the Imam, through inspiration (Ilham) knows that Allah (S.w.T.) will give relief in such situations without any reason. He also knows that such acts are exceptional. Therefore, they cannot be applied everywhere as a rule.
We have already mentioned that Tawakkul is the pursuance of legitimate affairs and dependence on Allah (S.w.T.). A question might arise in the minds that in some books Tawakkul has been mentioned in other senses than trust on Allah (S.w.T.). An example is that” a Mu’min doesn’t fear Allah (S.w.T.)”. Does Tawakkul al-Wajib or mandatory Tawakkul require one not to fear a wolf or a formidable enemy? Does it also require the person not to fear penury and disease?
In another place it is said that a man of Tawakkul must know that the Master of all gain or loss is none other than Allah (S.w.T.). In another place it is said that one should not expect anything from anyone but Allah (S.w.T.). The true sense of Tawakkul is not derived from these statements.
The researcher Ardabili says that explanation for such narrations is necessary. Not seeking anything from anyone would only mean that the person from whom one obtains anything is not the Ultimate Provider. If one needs bread, he should not think that the baker is the sustainer (raziq). The way one pleads for things with Allah (S.w.T.), one should not do the same way with anyone else. Otherwise it would be Shirk or polytheism.
These days there is a story taking rounds in Tehran that some people are propagating the Wahabi Sect in Tehran. They say that saying “Ya Muhammad” and “Ya ‘Ali” is Shirk. In support of their claim they quote the verse: “Lo! those on whom ye call beside Allah are slaves like unto you.” (Sura al-A’raaf, 7:194). They also quote: “Therefore call not upon any one with Allah.” (Sura al-Jinn, 72:18)
These are ignorant persons who do not seem to know the meaning of prayer (Du’a).
The meaning of Du’a, or Supplication is calling or summoning someone. Just calling and summoning is not forbidden. But doing it in a manner that Allah (S.w.T.) is called is not desirable. The call that is specifically associated with Allah (S.w.T.) is Du’a. If anyone called in this manner, it will be Shirk. Cure from a disease has to be asked for from Allah (S.w.T.). If the same thing is asked of from a physician, it can be termed Shirk. From the physician one can only ask for diagnosing the ailment and prescribing the medicines. The intercession (Tawassul) of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.) falls under the same category. If someone pleads to Hadrat Abul Fadl al-Abbas as one would plead with Allah (S.w.T.), then it would be Shirk.
But none do like this. Everyone thinks that Hadrat Abbas is the intercessor on their behalf.
Therefore, the meaning of Tawakkul is that other than Allah (S.w.T.) none else should be termed as the provider. Consider everyone under Allah (S.w.T.)’s will and pleasure. One should depend only on Allah (S.w.T.). Don’t the people who object to saying “Ya Muhammad”, “Ya ‘Ali” realize that everyday they call several persons other than Allah (S.w.T.)!